Stuart Ross, creator of Forever Plaid has returned to the world of harmony singing, although in his newest musical confection, he revisits 1930s swing, instead of 1950s doo wop. The Boswell Sisters, co-authored with Mark Hampton (Full Gallop), tells the true story of three Southern girls who continue to influence the interpretation of American popular music, despite a career that lasted less than ten years. Ross also directs the piece, running at San Diego's Globe Theatres July 22-Sept. 1.
Interpolating tunes from the 1920s and '30s ("Stormy Weather" and "Alexander's Ragtime Band" included), The Boswell Sisters traces the lives of the three women musicians (all three played instruments and sang), who burst on the scene with their unique, jazzy vocals as the Roaring Twenties were coming to an end. Connee, crippled in a childhood accident, took the lead on most songs, helping the girls win their first album contract in 1930 as well as gigs with the Marx Brothers, Cab Calloway and Bing Crosby. She would continue on a solo career even after her sisters, Helvetia aka Vet and Martha, left show business for married life.
The Boswell Sisters is the first collaboration for Ross and Hampton. Also a director, Ross is currently at work on the Keith Haring musical Radiant Baby, A Leap of Faith for Broadway's Faith Prince and A Very Special Plaid, a Christmas show for Pasadena Playhouse. Hampton is just as busy — he's crafting Paper Doll, a play about "Valley of the Dolls" author Jacqueline Susann, set to star Marlo Thomas and F. Murray Abraham at Pittsburgh Public Theater.
Elizabeth Ward Land stars as Connee with Amy Pietz as Martha and Michelle Duffy as Vet. Ward Land appeared on Broadway in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Passion and City of Angels. Pietz, best known as Annie on "Caroline in the City," appeared in the Steppenwolf's A View from the Bridge and You Can't Take It With You. Duffy's California credits include A Streetcar Named Desire at A Contemporary Theatre and Sunday in the Park With George Theatreworks.
Designing The Boswell Sisters are Jeff Youmans (sets), Beauty and the Beast's Ann Jould-Ward (costumes), David Segal (lighting) and Paul Peterson (sound). Scott Ellis is musical director with D. Adams as the stage manager. Tickets are $25-$50. The Globe Theatres are located in Balboa Park. For reservations, call (619) 239 2255. The Globe Theatres are on the web at http://www.theglobetheatres.org.
— By Christine Ehren